Shelley E. Kohan

Associate Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology
Shelley E. Kohan has been serving the retail industry for over 30 years working in senior leadership positions across various functions including general management, marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, and human resources. Positions include President Shelmark Consulting, Vice President Retail Consulting RetailNext, Executive Vice President Space NK, Vice President Store Operations Saks Fifth Avenue, Operating Vice President Bloomingdale’s, Director of Logistics Macy’s West, and Regional Director Operations Macy’s West. Kohan is a recognized retail expert appearing in the NBC Nightly News, Fox News, CGTN Global Business News, Wall St. Journal, New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Reuters, Fortune, Chain Store Age, The Robin Report, and other publications. She is a webinar and conference speaker appearing at WWD Digital, WWD 20/20, NRF Big Show,, Future of Stores and RIS Retail Executive Summit. Kohan has been honored as a Top Retail Influencer (2016, 2017, 2018) by Vend University. Kohan teaches as a tenured assistant professor both face-to-face and online classes on topics of retail management, case study method, marketing strategies, leadership development, and fashion business practices. Shelley earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Penn State University, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and an associate’s degree in Merchandising and Buying from the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2020

    Lululemon is ready to tackle holiday crowd control

    If the experience is anything like what I had this past week, I would say the host at the entrance of the store is a great way to expedite the shopping visits. When I arrived, the host at the door asked if I was looking for anything particular. I told her actually I was and she told me exactly where to find it which cut down my shopping trip. Retail shoppers really want to get in and out of the stores quickly so whatever practices retailers can implement to expedite the shopping trips are winners. As a side note, Lululemon was sold out of the short I wanted but the host told me they would alter a crop pant to the length of the short for free, charge me the price of the short (which was cheaper) and send it to my house. OK, I'm hooked now - I'm a loyal customer and will go back.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2020

    Target touts diversity gains, pledges to hire more Black employees

    A continued focus on DEI for Target will allow it to gain market share with today’s consumer and be an employer of choice. A diverse team delivers richer output and keeps both customers and employees more deeply engaged.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Will the late Prime Day sabotage or catapult holiday spending?

    Let's not forget the other major event impacting holiday selling ... the US Presidential election. A change in the White House may make consumers tighten up the purse strings while no change in the white house may erupt in more social divide. Prime Day will be monstrous this year with pent up demand, so all retailers should be on notice. Too early and it may miss the holiday selling opportunity, too late and it may be a loss based on the results of the election. I would say early November would be a better bet to balance out demand and supply chain capacity. Also, most consumers over-spend on holiday versus non-holiday. October is too early. All Retailers should ABSOLUTELY join the bandwagon, as Nikki says.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2020

    Can experiential retail go live and online?

    The two main reasons that live stream shopping will take off is the shift of consumer comfort with shopping online and the overwhelming comfort that cross-generational shoppers have with using virtual applications like Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Other factors are convenience and trust in their favorite brands, many customers could easily get used to having their own stylist! Factors that can create high engagement online would be customer input on product development, gamification and customization.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is curbside pickup just getting started?

    Curbside is here to stay as shoppers love the convenience and value this commerce option provides. For retailers, contrary to popular belief, providing pickup and curbside can actually increase sales and shopper frequency. On the Target investor call last month, it was stated that pickup and drive-up have increased traffic by 2.7 percent. The average spend is up 25 percent for shoppers engaging in drive-ups and in-store visits. The sales are complementary and by creating these cross-channel synergies, it can develop a deeper loyalty with the customers.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Nordstrom focuses on seamless shopping as stores reopen

    The consumer expectation has greatly shifted in a mere six weeks. The one-to-one personalized service is no longer a high expectation, even at Nordstrom. However, the Nordstrom family has always been very in-tune with the shopper's needs and is able to deliver a relevant experience based on customer expectations. At this time, Nordstrom will be able to offer a safe, comfortable shopping experience and will shift investments into more digital offerings like online, pickup, curbside and ship it which is how many consumers are wanting to shop. Maintaining extraordinary service is being redefined by the day and Nordstrom will continue to be the leader in this area.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2020

    What will retail look like if half of department stores close?

    The retail landscape will have fewer chain stores, an increase in smaller store formats, a wave of mom-and-pops and different experiences for shoppers. Over the last few decades with many mergers and acquisitions, the department stores have too many locations in duplicate markets and there is an abundance of apparel, a high category for this segment, saturating the market. This disequilibrium of supply and demand has come to head with stores closing. Some retailers will be looking for various liquidity measures to keep the business running and will close underperforming stores thereby providing sustainability to the other profitable stores. Rents will ultimately drop which will allow for a new breed of stores to emerge, many niche and unique brands. Malls will create multi-use areas as have been seen in the recent build-outs like American Dream including shopping, dining, entertainment and events. Creating community environments and some inclusive of vertical neighborhoods (like New York's Hudson Yards) will be the new normal for shopping centers.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2020

    Crocs, Walmart, Unilever and others have stepped up during the coronavirus outbreak

    Even small acts of kindness from local businesses that are able to stay open go a long way with community outreach. A small family catering business in our neighborhood continues to deliver meals to families but also donates meals to those families that are having a tough time putting food on the table. Everyone is ordering food to keep the small business going after things settle down and the people in need are benefiting. On the opposite side of the spectrum, larger companies may not know how they can help. Businesses can take the lead from H&M, where the CEO Helena Helmersson reached out to the EU to understand its needs to address the pandemic and to offer help. The company immediately started to prepare for the production of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2020

    Should retail close?

    Of course non-essential stores should close up shop. It is the right thing to do for the employees and shoppers. Companies will take a hit but as long as the workforce is able to remain employed, there is a bounce-back opportunity later in the year.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2020

    Burlington Stores walks away from e-commerce

    The three factors driving the decision to leave e-commerce behind make it a smart, prudent and sensible move for Burlington. One additional reason is the cost of trying to run an off-price brand online with the inconsistent influx of merchandise. Merchandising online is a challenge but the added factor of being off-price makes this job very complex and costly. Even by 2023, 85 percent of sales will come from the stores, and while this varies greatly by category of business, e-commerce for off-price is not significant enough to positively impact the profit lines (gross margin and net profit margins). Burlington experience a more negative impact by keeping a faltering channel up and running both from a business and consumer perspective.
  • Posted on: 03/05/2020

    Study says retailers could stand a little more sunny or snowy weather

    The weather has a definite and immediate impact on retail. There are many technological applications that retailers can use to integrate with their existing systems to better anticipate weather-related issues. Weekly, monthly and seasonal weather projections can be used to help stores optimize products that are impacted by these factors at a corporate level. For example, in a pull supply chain, a faster response to unseasonable weather can minimize over-stocks and markdowns. Whereas the hourly or daily weather implications can be best addressed by the store management teams. For example, on a bright sunny day, displaying products that revolve around the sun near the front of a store or on endcaps. Weather should not be an understated consideration.
  • Posted on: 03/04/2020

    Target thinks small to succeed big time

    Target will succeed in the smaller format stores, especially with its approach of slow and measured roll-outs which allow the company to perfect the model. The brand recognition will certainly drive foot traffic into the smaller locations and with the focus on the guest, both product assortments and service will align with the shopper needs. Target is changing the shopping behavior of customers with pick-up, drive-up and same-day delivery. In the Life On Campus stores, the options include delivering to the college dorm, pre-order staple supplies and pick-up at the store. All of these benefits will resonate with college students (and parents) and will drive further digital transformation beyond the 24 percent increase over LY in digital. Fresh food offerings will be next on the list of conveniences that Target will master.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Best Buy CEO faces alleged misconduct probe

    The best way to govern personal relationships is with well-written policies and transparency from employees who may be in violation of the policies. A reduction of the status differences in organizations has given rise to all levels of the organization being accountable to conduct issues. All employees should be treated fairly and equally when it comes to conduct issues, especially the CEO-leadership includes being the role model. As it stands now, the allegations are just that, allegations. If the allegations are unfounded, then Ms. Barry can overcome this issue over time (although it depends on how she continually responds to the allegations). If the allegations are confirmed, then she should be treated according to the stated policy.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Are return rates out of control?

    AI and other enabling technologies should help with the reduction of return rates in the future. These may include virtual stylists, applications designed to use body scans to best size products for customers, or chatbots that help with selecting the right size for products. The enabling technologies that use machine learning to help style select can also minimize returns by using data to pinpoint which styles are best for customers. Returns will always be a cost of doing business and will not be eliminated but companies can continue to work to reduce the number of returns with today's and future technologies.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Is BOPIS over its growing pains?

    In a recent analyst call, I was asked any key differences from last holiday to this holiday and the one area that was noticeable is BOPIS. Many retailers have put the back-of-house IT infrastructure, resources and labor hours into making the process seamless at the store level. Agree, that we have a long way to go but this year has been a “significant positive increase in experience level than last holiday.”

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